Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures: It's GREEK to Me!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

One of my favorite things about food is that with one bite, it can magically transport you to any time or place or memory in your life. Fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, vine-ripened tomatoes, and a drizzle of hand pressed olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar always brings me back to The Jazz Club (a hidden, little restaurant that I was fond of) in Venice, Italy.

Greek food always reminds me of when I lived in Cluj Napoca, Romania. Yes, kind of a weird jump....who thinks Greek when you're in Eastern Europe?  The Akropolis was the most amazing Greek restaurant and a nice change from all of the pizza and pasta offered everywhere. The atmosphere was fun, the service was good, and the food was always delicious.  I have some very fond memories of celebrations at the little white and blue corner eatery.

The Akropolis Restaurant in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

My time in Romania was years ago at this point, and I'm still on the search for another memorable Greek meal.  Reno has some decent options for "one-the-go" Greek. I love Nick's Greek Deli (keep an eye out for an upcoming review). They do a mean gyro and Greek salad.  But Nick's doesn't offer that sit-down meal atmosphere, with linen tablecloths, plates with patterns of gods and goddesses, souvlaki that comes to your table in a fiery blaze, and an owner who will serenade you with Greek love songs.  You can't find that anywhere in Reno...that I know of.

So when I was craving Greek food the other day, I was THRILLED to stumble across this recipe in one of my cookbooks:

Greek-Style Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce

I found this recipe not only quick and easy (it was in my 20 minute cook-book after all), it was also way yummier then I had expected.  The lemon juice and oregano really brightened up the whole dish.

For the most part, I followed the recipe. I did add some extra veggies to the salad mixture -- had some extra carrots, peppers, and a few olives sitting around from a previous recipe.  I also opted to use a "spring mix" of greens instead of the called-for romaine lettuce.

Lettuce/salad mixture, tzatziki sauce, wild rice, and garlic-oregano chicken.

One of the biggest changes I would make to this recipe would be the tzatziki/yogurt sauce. 

I thought all of the flavors were spot on, but the combination of the non-fat plain yogurt and the wet cucumber made for a liquidy end result.  When I make this again I will "drain" the yogurt before adding the other ingredients.  This is done by putting the yogurt in some cheese cloth, which allows for some the extra liquid come out.  I will also remove some of the cucumber's extra moisture by blotting with paper towels. Taking those two extra steps, will result in a thicker and creamier sauce.

This meal easily serves four people.  Since I am just one, it made for one great dinner and three grab-and-go lunches.  Two of the days I opted to leave the rice out.  I felt the vegetable packed salad, chicken, and cucumber/yogurt "dressing" was plenty for my mid-day meal.

While this dish doesn't come close to that served at The Akropolis, it most definitely curbed my craving for Greek!


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